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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Nicole Kidman, John Lithgow auction off Zooms, artwork to aid crew members amid Hollywood strikes

Celebrities are auctioning off unusual, creative services to raise money for unionized production members, some of whom have not worked for months, amid writers’ and actors’ strikes in Hollywood.

The collective fundraising effort comes from The Union Solidarity Coalition (TUSC), a group of writers and directors “moved to connect with crew affected by the 2023 WGA strike,” according to its website. “We want to think big about how we can support each other in the face of a national labor crisis,” the group writes.

The auction, created to raise funds for crew members who have lost their health insurance due to strike-related shutdowns, is taking place on eBay, and includes some downright eccentric experiences for bidders.

Sure, there are experiences that follow traditional formats, like a Zoom with acclaimed actress Nicole Kidman, that has drawn a current high bid of $1,275. A virtual “coffee and conversation” session with actress, writer and comedian Rachel Bloom is also on offer, with the highest bid surpassing $2,000.

Sunday crossword with Natasha Lyonne

More quirky experiences include the opportunity to have actress and filmmaker Natasha Lyonne help you solve the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle. A popular item, the current bid stands at $6,100.

Animal lovers take note: Stage and screen actor John Lithgow will paint a watercolor portrait of your dog. He includes examples of his previous work on the auction page describing the special offer, which has a current high bid of $4,450.

Actor Adam Scott will walk your Los Angeles-based dog for an hour, too.

Flair-seeking homeowners can also commission a mural by Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO television series “Girls.” One bidder has already offered $5,100.

Other experiences include a pottery class with Busy Philipps and “exquisite corpse drawing” with Charlie Day and Mary Elizabeth Ellis.

Far from being rich and famous, many of the unionized crew members who work behind the scenes in the movie business have lost their health insurance and are struggling financially as production on films and television hascome to a halt amid the strikes. Many have taken jobs waiting tables or working at Target and other local stores, RollingStone reported.

Artists are struggling as well. Since the strike, which began on July 14, thousands of out-of-work performers have joined an app that lets celebrities record personalized videos for fans, and returned to restaurant, desk and airline jobs to stay afloat while the industry presses pause.

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